Backbench Business — [25th Allotted Day] — Social Housing in London

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:58 pm on 5th May 2011.

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Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Labour, Lewisham, Deptford 12:58 pm, 5th May 2011

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend. He anticipated what I was about to say—[Interruption.] There is no need for an apology, because he is so right, and I am glad to have my point reinforced in advance.

I was about to say that when we turned our minds to the housing crisis in the capital, we made progress. In my constituency a raft of Government policies, including the decent homes programme, led to huge improvements in conditions. Many large council estates were completely demolished and rebuilt, removing the tower blocks and providing modern energy-efficient homes in low-rise blocks and, in some cases, terraces with gardens. No longer did constituents come to me begging to be got off an estate or crying because the cold was so intense—because of crumbling windows, poor insulation and lack of central heating—that they could not endure the winters.

Overcrowding continued, however, and new starts did not keep up with the demand, particularly for the larger family-sized units. Making up for the lack of investment under a decade of Tory policy became impossible, because property and land prices rose by an unprecedented degree. However, the effort continued, and the Labour Government concluded their period in office having made available £5 billion of investment for housing in London between 2008 and 2011. As a consequence of the Labour Administration, new starts in affordable house building peaked in 2009-10 at almost 16,000 units. That Labour programme is nearing its completion, however, and hereafter numbers look certain to collapse, as my hon. Friend Mr Slaughter suggested in an intervention might happen.

In addition, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has abandoned Labour’s target of having 50% of all new build as affordable homes. In my borough the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation at the end of March was 924, and at the end of February there were 16,000 on the housing register. Once again we have a growing housing crisis in London.